Discord rules EU talks on 2013 budget

Nov. 9, 2012 at 2:58 PM
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BRUSSELS, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Discord marked the latest European talks in Brussels on apportioning cash for future bailouts of financially distressed EU members and other budgetary needs of the troubled union.

Eight hours of acrimonious discussion ended late Friday with European Parliament members ruling out further talks without a thorough review of the proposals that held up a compromise during the day.

The latest negotiations saw Britain disagreeing once again with other members, to the annoyance of mainland Europeans who increasingly see London as an unwelcome commentator and participant on key issues they want solved their own way.

Britain isn't a member of the 17-nation eurozone but is alert to any decisions that it fears may drag the country into costly EU-wide financial commitments.

Already London is upset over EU plans to extract additional revenue for financial transactions and other provisions that the city financial district in the British capital thrives on.

EU analysts said discord would likely prevail over the European Commission's plans to insist on a $12 billion budget increase that several key members, including Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom oppose.

Critics of the EU plans called it an outrage and questioned the European Commission's branding of the extra cash as "emergency funding."

If the funding increase goes through as demanded by supporters of a larger budget, Britain, which is outside the 17-nation eurozone and other member stations both in and outside eurozone will have to pour billions of dollars into European coffers to support the additional spending. British Prime Minister David Cameron called the cash demand "ludicrous."

Support for the extra funds has come mainly from eastern European members who want the European Union to do more to help regenerate their economies.

Five countries this year, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are contributing nearly half of the EU budget, causing mounting political problems for the incumbent politicians.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Cameron in London this week ahead of the talks on resolving the budget dispute.

During the discussions Friday British Treasury official Greg Clark denounced the EU commission for asking for an extra 9.65 percent in funding for this year almost 11 months into 2012.

"Europe must practice the fiscal discipline that it demands of member states," Clark said.

"Ordinary working people, whether in the U.K. or elsewhere, cannot be asked to pay more to Europe when they are enduring cuts at home.

"We have made it clear that we want to see the annual budget cut in real terms and certainly not increased. That remains our view for 2012 and 2013," he said.

French lawmaker Alain Lamassoure, who heads the European Parliament's budget committee, said the European Commission "will now have to present a new proposal to enable talks to resume."

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